the far right side is a new 33,000 square foot addition which was not significantly damaged and may be able to house employees quite quickly after getting a thorough cleaning.
the west end of the building suffered significant damage is will be razed and rebuilt. the fire is still smoldering and flared up last night causing the local volunteer fire department to come back out and douse it with 500,000 gallons of water at 2 a.m.
of course, this whole mess is very personal since i work here! but it’s extra personal to know that kris’ desk is right smack in the middle of this picture on the 2nd floor. so, thankful that she was not in the building and that everyone else got out safely.
sadly, there was a fire at organic valley headquarters yesterday that damaged the west portion of the building pretty badly. luckily, kris and i were not in the building when it was evacuated around 4:10pm. i left at 4:05 in the rideshare van back to viroqua with my computer and phone to get prepared to leave town for a few days for a department retreat. so i’m lucky to have a computer an an internet connection and can keep calm and carry on from home while we figure out the next steps.
looking at the damage from the fire today, i’m so very thankful that everyone got out of the building and that nobody was hurt. while certainly sad to see the damage, property is – of course – replaceable and rebuildable and i have no doubt that the cleanup and rebuild will happen quickly. fortunately, our distribution center and other facilities are fully operational and we have contingency plans in progress so we are able to continue to deliver all the wonderful products you love 🙂
it’s been awesome to hear all the expressions of support from the community, around the state and around the country. i know it really does mean a lot to me and all the other employees.
tomorrow i get to go in and recover what i can from my area which is on the 2nd floor to the right next to the new addition all the way to the right and somewhat distanced from the major damage. kris’ desk is on the 2nd floor pretty much right smack dab in the middle of the worst damage. i doubt she’ll be able to recover anything.
my understanding is that while the rest of the floor looks like a bomb went off, my relatively notorious leaning stack of papers that i’ve been meaning to clean up any day now for the past year that has always been threatening to teeter over is still standing and still threatening to teeter over.
for father’s day, possibly to balance out the ice cream maker i got for my birthday, kris and odin gave me a nice little saris bike carrier which means we can now go on fantastic Bicycling Adventures outside of the five or ten mile radius bike routes we traverse in town.
this is A Big Deal. we’ve wanted one Forever since we haven’t really had an easy way to transport multiple bikes in the jetta.
so, today, odin and i decided to hit the elroy-sparta state trail which is about 35 miles from homebase. i intented to go on a leisurely 5 or 10 mile ride.
odin hatched A Different Plan when the nice woman who sold us a trail ticket mentioned there was a fantastic tunnel 9 miles down the trail. 9 miles! that’d be at least 18 miles total. muuuuuuuuch longer than our previous record bike ride of 8 miles. but odin said he was up for it.
so off we rode.
after nine miles, up a 3% grade for much of the route, we finally reached The Tunnel Entrance. it was pretty neat because you could feel the cold air coming from the 3/4 mile long tunnel well before you see the entrance.
i probably shouldn’t have been surprised that odin rode the 9 miles like it was a trip around the block. i, however, was huffing a bit 🙂
note, you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
and, if you can stand shakey-cam, you can watch us walk the entirety of the 3,810 foot tunnel. i was warned that it would be dark and thought the little light on the front of my bike would adequately illuminate our way. it provided just barely enough light which made for quite a interesting walk considering there was far more water dripping from the ceiling than i anticipated.
for some reason the video camera got stuck in “macro mode” ( maybe because of the water droplets on the lens? ) so it’s a little blurry, though i think it adds the right artisitic flair 🙂
at the other end of the tunnel we found a sign which told the story of the making of the tunnel. apparently, workers struck an overhead spring which explains why there was so much water dripping from ceiling.
coming back through the other side of the tunnel we were surprised to run into a guy who climbed to the top of the tunnel entrance.
the video camera didn’t adjust to show his face which is probably good because i think he was smoking something that’s not legal in most states unless you have a health condition 🙂
while we were biking i told odin how awesome it would be if we ran across a little shop that sold ice cream sandwiches and lamented the fact that there was probably no chance my dream would come true.
lo and behold, we did run across a little stand that a nice old man set up in his backyard.
i think he thought it was pretty neat that we were out for a father and son ride and offered to take our picture just as we prepared to dig into the very muchly appreciated cold and creamy gift.
we’ll ignore that look on my face.
at one point on the trail there’s a cool standstone formation ( or at least i think it’s sandstone ) that appeared to be frequented by local teen-agers ( lots of names scrawled in the sand, remains of a bonfire and some empty adult beverage cans ). it’s at about miles 15 on the return route and when odin said he wanted to stop and rest and climb to the top i was only too happy to oblige.
( i couldn’t resist taking one more of odin sitting on top of the sandstone and it didn’t have anything to do with me wanting to “milk” every minute out of the rest stop. honest. no, really. )
aaaaaaand, we. finally. finished. all. twenty. miles.
we talked a lot during the ride about judging how much energy you had left and told him many, many time we didn’t have to bike the whole route all at once. but maybe that was all about me and not him.
he finished with a smile and said he could have probably rode 40 miles. or maybe 50.
and, as his style, he said he said he couldn’t possibly thank me enough for taking him on The Best Bike Ride Ever.
epilogue: sparta, wisconsin is the self-described “Bicycling Capital of America” because the traile we rode was the first rail bed in wisconsin to be converted to bike trails. i’m not sure that warrants the title ( why not the “Bicycling Capital of Wisconsin”? ) but it’s a fun little bit of appropriate trivia.
the garlic we planted last fall at our employee garden at organic valley hq  is coming in nicely! and perhaps we even have one of the nicer looking employee plots ( inside joke. we have at times over the years had a notoriously ill kept plot. )! certainly better looking than last year when the plot was water logged.
we had enough good “seed garlic” from last years’ harvest to put in about 200 head which should yield more than enough for us to give away heaps to lucky friends and family and provide us with garlic for the year.